Sustainable PW–PBS Implementation

As a whole-school approach, PW–PBS implementation requires a sustainable, long-term process

Key Point: Implementing Programme–Wide Positive Behaviour Support (PW–PBS) requires time to achieve a sustainable impact across various levels (children, families, professionals, ECEC settings, communities) and desired outcomes (socioemotional learning, health, learning, and positive school climate). The duration of implementation can vary depending on the specific needs and goals of each ECEC setting, but typically, over a year is required for full integration. Continuous evaluations, updates, and fidelity checks are necessary to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of PW–PBS systems and practices. Commitment from all stakeholders (administration, professionals, children, parents, and the wider community) creates a positive and supportive school culture for long-term success. Educational stakeholders must consider adequate and reasonable timelines and define policies that support longterm implementation. An extended timeframe enables professionals to learn and develop necessary skills, support each other in becoming proficient in the approach, and refine PW–PBS practices to adapt to children’s evolving needs. Prolonged commitment allows interventions to become truly embedded in ECEC daily life, creating a positive and supportive environment with lasting effects on children’s development and behaviour (please see our PBS–ECEC Key Resources below).

Voices of professionals and educational stakeholders from PBS–ECEC

“Directors must understand the time it will take to implement this approach; if professionals are given information and it is explained why this time is necessary for training, there will be less demotivation, and they will understand the time needed to acquire the skills”. (P., Portugal).  

“The programme is gradually integrated into our work (…). From my experience with the programme, I believe it is effective and should be introduced in schools.” (P., Cyprus)

“Implementing PW–PBS requires the use of evidence-based assessment methods and appropriate tools for evaluating its effectiveness. This process may take time. However, PW–PBS is a flexible approach, allowing each preschool to implement it according to their specific needs and timeline.” (K., Greece)

What can be done to make a difference?

Strategy:  Promote on-site continuous and effective implementation (Visit Impact Assessment Study and Practice Recommendations Report  to learn more)


  • Promote planning, monitoring, and evaluation focused on quality and positive outcomes. PW– PBS requires adequate time for training staff in PW–PBS principles and strategies, to tailor interventions to individual children’s needs, to consistently apply positive behaviour strategies, and to actively involve all ECEC professionals.
  • Provide implementation guidelines that favour coherence through workforce stability and adequate training and integration of new staff members into PW– PBS practices.
  • Encourage the use of evidence-based methods to assess implementation effectiveness at several points in time and monitor changes in children´s long-term outcomes.
  • Adopt a long-term perspective that enables better resource management; for example, allocate adequate funding and resources for sustained implementation of the PW–PBS framework, including professional development for staff and family engagement initiatives.

Strategy:  Support a community-wide, long-term sustainability approach


  • Foster collaboration between educational stakeholders and community organisations to support long-term outcomes in ECEC settings.
  • Incentivise ECEC systems to collect data on positive child and school climate outcomes, which can inform future policy decisions to develop sustainability plans.
  • Encourage critical reflection and the creation of reflexive communities of practice as sustainers of professional autonomy and learning.
  • Foster a community of support and collaboration among ECEC centres that have successfully implemented PW–PBS (inter-peer training and sharing of best practices, strategies, and lessons learned), while introducing initiatives that acknowledge ECEC centres with successful long-term implementation of PW–PBS to motivate other centres to embrace the approach.

What are the expected benefits and impacts?

  1. By embedding PW–PBS principles and strategies into the ECEC setting’s culture and practices over an extended period, both professionals and children can experience the full benefits.
  2. With consistent implementation and ongoing professional development, professionals can effectively address challenging behaviours, promote positive social skills, and foster a supportive and inclusive learning environment.
  3. By mitigating time constraints, for example, through online training, professionals can engage in professional development at their own pace, foster a culture of lifelong learning, and develop a collaborative approach that encourages the exchange of perspectives, fosters innovation, and promotes evidence-based decision-making.
  4. As PW–PBS becomes deeply ingrained in the ECEC centre, it creates a foundation for a lasting culture of respect. The long-term commitment to PW–PBS enables the continuous improvement and refinement of the approach based on the centre’s evolving needs.
  5. The importance of extending implementation lies in providing children with sufficient exposure to positive behavioural support strategies. This prolonged engagement allows the interventions to become embedded in ECEC centres’ daily routines, leading to long-term positive outcomes, including:
    • positive changes in children’s socioemotional development and behaviour; enhanced professional expertise and commitment to evidence-based practice 
    • strengthened partnerships between centres, families, and communities.
    • stronger caregiver–child relationships (trust, bonding);
    • positive culture change within the centre (nurturing and inclusive social climate);
    • continuous monitoring and adjustment of strategies for children with complex behavioural needs;
    • data-driven decision making, which helps identify trends and patterns that inform optimal effectiveness.

What practices show the way forward?

PBS–ECEC online training course

The PBS–ECEC project participants received blended, asynchronous training within a train the trainers´ approach and were given access to online learning resources. The training, conducted online, has provided a valuable opportunity for greater time flexibility. Professionals could engage in training sessions at their own pace and convenience, allowing them to balance their professional responsibilities with their personal commitments. This flexibility has enabled them to allocate time specifically for training and implementation while also supporting their colleagues in finding suitable time slots to participate. By embracing online training, participants demonstrated willingness to invest in their professional growth, overcome time constraints, and actively collaborated to create a positive and supportive learning environment for children. 

Supporting evidence and resources

Key Resources

Needs assessment in four countries 

Krousorati, K., Grammatikopoulos, V., Agathokleous, A., Michaelidou, V., Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Barros, S., Araújo, S., Santos, M., & Sousa, M. (2023). PBS–ECEC transnational consolidated report: Research findings for developing the guide on Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood education and care.

A Guide for using PW-PBS in ECEC

Krousorati, K., Grammatikopoulos, V., Agathokleous, A., Michaelidou, V., Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Araújo, S., Santos, M., Sousa, M., & Barros, S. (2023). PBS–ECEC guide on Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood and care in European countries.  

PBS-ECEC online modules

PBS–ECEC Consortium (n.d.). Implementing Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood education and care [MOOC].

Impact assessment study & recommendations

Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Araújo, A., Santos, M., Oliveira, V., Barros, S., Otero-Mayer, A., Michaelidou, V., Agathokleous, A., Krousorati, K., & Grammatikopoulos, V. (2023). Report of the PBS–ECEC impact assessment study and practice recommendations. Result 3: Transnational Report.

Additional Resources

Carter, D. R., Van Norman, R. K., & Tredwell, C. (2011). Program-Wide Positive Behavior Support in Preschool: Lessons for Getting Started. Early Childhood Education Journal, 38, 349–355.  

Fox, L., & Perez Binder, D. (2015). Getting preschool classrooms on board with SchoolWide Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (SW-PBIS) [Fact sheet].

Fox, L., & Lentini, R. (2016). Positive behavior support in early childhood. Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Goldberg, J. M., Sklad, M., Elfrink, T. R., Schreurs, K. M., Bohlmeijer, E. T., & Clarke, A. M. (2019). Effectiveness of interventions adopting a whole school approach to enhancing social and emotional development: a meta-analysis. European Journal of psychology of Education, 34(4), 755-782.

Jones, S. M., & Bouffard, S. M. (2012). Social and emotional learning in schools: From programs to strategies. Social Policy Report, 26(4), 1-33.

Mahoney, J. L., Weissberg, R. P., Greenberg, M. T., Dusenbury, L., Jagers, R. J., Niemi, K., Schlinger, M., Schlund, J., Shriver, T. P., VanAusdal, K., & Yoder, N. (2021). Systemic social and emotional learning: Promoting educational success for all preschool to high school students. American Psychologist, 76(7), 1128–1142.